Instagram is taking social media beyond liking, commenting and reposting. The app that is typically used for sharing photos is currently testing out a shopping feature that allows users to purchase products they see on Instagram posts directly through the app.

The feature is available to a limited group of iOS users in the U.S., according to a USA Today article. “Posts from retailers involved in the test will include a “tap to view” button to display tagged items. When tapping the tag, users get more details on the product, with the choice to “shop now” Instagram will redirect users to the retailer’s website from within the app to make their purchase,” according to the USA Today article.

The site has been used for advertising by retailers for a variety of products since its start in October of 2010 but this will be the first interactive form of advertizing users of the site will be exposed to.

“With a community of more than 500(Million), Instagram is one of the world’s largest mobile ads platforms,” according to the business section of Instagram.

Over 90 percent of Instagram users are under the age of 35, according to businessinsider.com

Because of this, it’s an ideal platform for apparel, entertainment and media brands focused on the 18- to 34-year-old demographic. Instagram use sways heavily toward women, an estimated 68 percent of its users are female, according to businessinsider.com.

Plattsburgh State freshman business major Kate Marsco thinks the new feature could completely change the way she uses the site.

“I’ve always followed my favorite stores on Instagram and when I like something I can usually find a link to their website but not always a link to the specific product,” she said. “This could save me so much time.”

Marsco thinks the feature will be well-received by Instagram users because it has the ability to combines social media and online shopping, which could save users’ time.

“It’s like the concept of a superstore such as walmart,” she said. “It can provide me with many different things all under the same roof.”

A group of 20 retailers, including Kate Spade and Warby Parker are participating in the initial phase, according to the USA Today article.

Instagram isn’t stopping there. They will also explore other features tied to shopping, such as viewing product recommendations and saving items to buy later, according to the USA Today article.
Marsco thinks her generation will have the strongest reaction to the new feature.

“It’s a little sad to think about how much we rely on social media in this day and age but I don’t see this as a bad thing,” she said. “This is the future, I think it’s great that Instagram is willing to adapt and change in order to better serve the needs of their audience.”

PSUC junior psychology major Marc Keeley thinks the new feature is taking the fun out of the shopping experience.

“Maybe it’s just me, but I really enjoy sitting down with my computer and fully exploring a clothing website before making a purchase,” he said. “It’s time-consuming sure but I feel like this feature could promote impulse buying.”

Impulse buying is defined as the buying of goods without planning to do so in advance, as a result of a sudden whim or impulse, according to psychologytoday.com.

Over 80 percent of millennials admit to impulse buying according to an article in Time Magazine.

“When shopping, millennials are far likelier than other generations to make unplanned purchases just to pamper themselves,” according to the Time magazine article.

Keeley thinks that is caused by interdependence on technology.

“Think about it, we live in an era where you can order your groceries online and have someone deliver them to your door,” he said. “We are willing to pay a little extra if we can save on time.”

Other social media applications are taking similar ways to include a shopping experience while exploring their feeds. Pinterest offers buyable pins that allow users to make purchases through a “Buy It” button and make payments through credit card or Apple Pay, according to USA Today.

Google introduced Purchases on Google last year, where users can make purchases directly from mobile search ads. Twitter and Facebook have also tested shopping features for their users.

“Technology, man,” Keeley said. “Welcome to the future.”

Email Madison Winters at madison.winters@cardinalpointsonline.com

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